Our 4WD adventure on Fraser Island

Trip Start Aug 16, 2004
Trip End Aug 13, 2005

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Friday, April 8, 2005

Our 3 day camping adventure started with a 1hr briefing on Tuesday night, where we met our group and made a shopping list for the food we had to buy. There were 9 of us in total - 3 English, 3 Dutch and 3 Canadians. The rest of the evening was spent packing stuff, showering and getting an early night.

Next morning the fun really started with a 7:45am start to the supermarket to buy supplies and then on our way to the ferry. 10am and still no sign of the ferry but eventually 30mins later we were loaded on the barge and making our way across to
Fraser Island. We were lucky enough to see some dolphins playing in the water near the boat on the 40 min crossing.

Fraser Island is a giant sand island so once we were off the boat the real 4WD adventure began. First we crossed the island on a dirt track that the max speed we could go was 30kph. You wouldn't want to go any faster than that otherwise you'd be flying out of the roof on all the bumps. Once we got to the other side of the island, the beach is the road, oh and also the runway for small planes that land there to bring supplies to the resorts.

Driving on the sand isn't too bad but you have to be careful of washouts. This is where the creeks run into the sea. Also, the beach isn't as smooth as you would think. We found this out the hard way in the first hour or so when we had filled our water container up and put it on top of the 2 eskies we had. Well going over a bump the water container smashed down on the eskies and we managed to break one of them. Could have been worse though!

Our first stop was at Lake Wabby. Lake Wabby is also termed a barrage lake, which is formed by the damming action of a sandblow blocking the waters of a natural spring. Wabby is relatively close to the ocean side of the island and unlike the other lakes it supports several varieties of fish. The sandblow is gradually encroaching on the deep green waters of Wabby as it makes its gradual progress westward across the island, and so in a few years the lake will have disappeared. We had a refreshing swim in the lake before it started to rain. Rain would become the theme of the 3 days!

So we left the lake completely drenched and headed to the Kooroman sandblow to set up camp. We were only allowed to drive on the beach at certain times due to the tide, and we weren't allowed to drive at all in the dark so we had to be at the campsite on the first day by 4:30pm.

We set up the tents in the rain and as soon as we finished the rain cleared up so at least it was dry as we cooked our dinner of steak, hamburgers and sausages, along with pasta and potato salads. You aren't allowed to light fires anymore on the island so we couldn't have the traditional toasting of marshmallows. We did however, sit round the barbecue drinking wine before clambering into our tents for the noisiest and most uncomfortable night's sleep ever. There were no toilets nearby either!!

Day two we actually had a whole day of sunshine so after a breakfast of scrambled eggs we packed up the car and drove along the beach to Indian Head, spotting two dingoes on the way. Apparently when you climb the rocks you can often see dolphins and sharks swimming in the water. However we were unlucky because we didn't see anything. It is advised that you do not swim in the sea as there are normally tiger sharks lurking in the waters.

Indian Head is the most northerly point that we were allowed to drive to, so from there we walked 40mins to get to the Champagne Pools. These are natural rock pools that get the waves from the sea crashing over into the pools, making the pools all frothy, hence the name.

We had a couple of hours there, sunbathing and swimming before heading back down the beach to our campsite for the night. On the way back we stopped at the
Maheno shipwreck and Eli Creek.

Eli Creek is supposed to be the coldest creek on the island because the water comes straight from the ground and is filtered up through the sand. We had a little paddle in the water and it didn't seem to be that cold but I think if we had gone swimming there we would be telling a different story.

From the creek it was straight to the campsite at Cornwall Beach Road. This camping spot was so much nicer than the first day. It was much more sheltered from the wind and the ground was more comfortable. We were also the first ones there so we could pick the best spot. It was also here that we spotted a dingo at the edge of our campsite whilst we were eating dinner. Luckily it wasn't aggressive and when the torchlight was on it, it ran off to the next group of campers. After dinner and some more wine and toilet stops we headed into the tents for a reasonable night's sleep. It rained all night though!

The last day, the weather was awful until we got to Lake Mackenzie. We were supposed to drive along the beach to Eurong resort and then turn inland towards the lake but we were all packed up and ready to go at 9:30am. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to drive on the beach until 10:30 so we decided to take the scenic route through the forest instead.

This turned out to be a much better idea, as it was a lot more fun on the dirt tracks going through the forest. We also found out why it was called the rainforest as that's all it did! Luckily, once we got to Lake Mackenzie it had stopped raining and the sun was also threatening to shine.

Lake Mackenzie is meant to be the highlight of the Fraser Island trip, and when we got there it was easy to see why. The sand is white and so fine that apparently if you dip your jewellery into it it comes out sparkling. Unfortunately I didn't have any with me to test this theory. The water is also really clear, so that it feels like you are sitting in a bath except that the water is cold, not hot! The weather had brightened up when we got there so after having lunch we spent quite a long time there swimming and sunbathing before heading back to the barge landing at Wanggoolba Creek to catch the 4pm barge back to the mainland.

Again, the barge was late, but we finally arrived back at the hostel safe and sound, very smelly and tired at 6pm for a nice hot shower and a long sleep.
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